John Oliver on the refugee crisis

At something over 17 minutes, the clip below is longer than I normally post here, but it really is worth seeing, and it gets better as it goes along.

The best parts have to do with a charming, smiling 16-year-old Syrian girl named Noujain Mustaffa, who taught herself to speak fluent English by watching her favorite soap opera, Days of Our Lives. If for some reason you don’t have time to watch the whole piece, then please at least watch the two segments she’s in, from 3:35 to 4:45 and from 12:00 to the end.


As Oliver suggests in passing, the situation is more complex than can be fully explored in 17 minutes. There are good arguments in favor of admitting refugees, out of enlightened self-interest as well as human decency, but at the same time, not all opposition is founded only in ignorance and bigotry. And most of the refugees themselves would probably prefer to stay in their homes if they could.

We should be careful to avoid mentally putting ourselves only in the place of one of the parties. If your first impulse is, like mine, to look at things from the European viewpoint, also imagine what it would be like to risk your life to flee your country for another, giving up everything you own except for what you can carry, and facing a risk of dying on the way because the danger to yourself and your family is even greater staying behind.

Earlier posts on the same subject:

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John Oliver on the refugee crisis — 2 Comments

  1. BBC Radio recently produced a drama about the refugee crisis, “Our Sea”, available for listening online until October 21st. It gets away from the attempts at a dispassionate overview by focusing on five refugee survivors of a sunk ferry in the Mediterranean, and their struggle to survive until rescue comes. (Spoiler: Rescue doesn’t come; it’s been defunded.) Very harrowing to listen to. Extra points for when the cast members recording the drama break the fourth wall.

  2. Pingback: How much of a threat are Syrian refugees? | D Gary Grady

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